Meet the first Muslim women in US Congress: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib

Meet the first Muslim women in US Congress: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib

Meet the first Muslim women in US Congress: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Culture & Entertainment
[L-R] Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Image: Reuters


Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have made history as the first Muslim women to have risen to the ranks of the Unites States Congress.

Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party nominee Ilhan Omar will secure their seats in the strongly Democratic districts following primary victories earlier this year that effectively decided their races.

In addition to being one of the first Muslim women in Congress, Ilhan will also be the first Somali-American member.

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Ilhan, a proud hijab-wearer, is also Director of Policy and Initiatives at the Women Organizing Women Network. She came to the US from a refugee camp in 1995, and two years ago she became the first Somali-American to be elected to a state legislature.

“I did not expect to come to the United States and go to school with kids who were worried about food as much as I was worried about it in a refugee camp,” Reuters quoted Omar as saying in an interview last month.

Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar. Image provided by


Ilhan has strongly opposed US President Donald Trump’s ban on travellers from several Muslim-majority countries. Soon after the US Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ban, Ilhan made a statement expressing her stance: “When I’m in Congress, I will introduce legislation to overturn this decision. It’s clear we are at one of the most significant turning points in American history; we must decide whether we stand for liberty or if we stand for oppression. We must take decided action beyond helping ourselves, going out of our way to help our neighbours. We must fight back, we must organize, we must vote.”

Tlaib became the first Muslim woman elected to the Michigan Legislature in 2008. She was born to a family of Palestinian immigrants in Detroit and was the oldest of 14 children. She has linked her campaign to the surge of female political activism in the US following Trump’s stunning 2016 victory.

“Today, women across the country are on the ballot. Yes, we marched outside the Capitol, but now we get to march into the Capitol,” she wrote in a Twitter post on Tuesday. “We are coming!”

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